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Author Topic: Adapting connections the right way  (Read 990 times)

Bob L. Wilson

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Adapting connections the right way
« on: November 03, 2012, 04:44:52 pm »

A good friend of mine has taken over an established prison ministry. He has been asking me to come on a Friday night and help sort out some sound system issues. I finally had time to do so last night. The issues with the house equalization and delay speakers were basic and quickly resolved but another came up as I was talking to them about and going over their gear. I was amazed at some of the interconnects they were using and not in a good way.

At some point in the life of this ministry it looks like somebody was involved who believed professional sound systems always use 1/4" or XLR interconnects. They have been using rack shelf mounted consumer disc players connected in to a stereo channel on the console with 1/4" TR cables with 1/4" to male RCA adapters on the ends at the player. They have had a rash of mysterious player failures probably all related to having a ridiculous connector package hanging off of the PCB mounted female RCA connections.  Similarly they are sending the tape outs from the console to an Aphex leveler before sending them on to a Marantz Solid State recorder. The console outputs and Marantz inputs are both female RCAs the Aphex is XLR only so you guessed it they have RCA male to XLR adapters plugged in to both the Marantz and the console with XLR cables running in between. Neither the Marantz or the console have failed, yet. I can't envision a situation when an XLR or 1/4" to RCA male hard adapter would ever be a good idea. They also had an 1/8" TRS auxiliary input cable up front for the pastor to plug into with an IPOD, Smartphone, tablet or laptop that sounded terrible. It turned out to be a 1/8" male TRS to female XLR designed to plug a low impedance mic into a camcorder or PC. Somebody had plugged the female XLR in to a XLR male to male adapter and then in to a mic cord in to the floor box.

1) Making connections mechanically compatible is not necessarily the same as making them electrically compatible.
2) One must consider both the length and weight of the connector as it relates to overloading a panel mounted jack.
3) If you need a male RCA or 1/8" connection to connect to -10db consumer gear make the conversion at the 1/4" or XLR connection or somewhere along the cable run keep total length of unbalanced runs as short as possible.
4) 1/8" headphone level connections on IPODS, phones, PCs are flimsy and prone to failure. The last thing one wants is an unnecessarily heavy or long connector that puts more load on them. None of these devices will be happy seeing phantom power or driving a long cable run. They are also known for causing ground loops when running on AC power. Use an appropriate direct box,(Whirlwind PC or Radial AV series are good units) or a unit like the Whirlwind ISOPOD to give the devices a load they can happily drive while isolating the grounds.

« Last Edit: November 03, 2012, 06:56:00 pm by Bob L. Wilson »
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